The #MeToo Reckoning: Facing the Church’s Complicity in Sexual Abuse and Misconduct
By Ruth Everhart (InterVarsity Press)
Ruth Everhart writes The #MeToo Reckoning as an outgrowth of her earlier volume Ruined, the 2017 Book of the Year by Christianity Today Women. Ruined details Everhart’s survival after a sexual assault in 1978 when two armed intruders robbed, raped and brutalized her and her college housemates. As a conservative Christian college senior with a deeply religious background, she believed a woman’s sexual purity was of such importance that the rape had damaged her “beyond repair.”
As other women shared their experiences with her, the longtime Presbyterian minister combined stories with biblical narrative to pen The #MeToo Reckoning: Facing the Church’s Complicity in Sexual Abuse and Misconduct. She muses, for example, on how Bathsheba frequently has been implicated as partly responsible for David’s adultery. After all, she was beautiful. Ruth wonders what consequences Bathsheba would have faced for not complying with a king’s summons. Was she somehow complicit or not?
The author shares the continuation of her own story set against the backdrop of 2 Samuel 13, a passage that includes Tamar’s rape and quests for power. As a young seminary graduate, along with her teacher-husband and two preschool daughters, Everhart moved to a wealthy suburban church where she would be associate minister and the first female to serve on staff. A year after the long-time senior pastor laid his “holy” hands on her at her ordination, he laid his “unholy” hands on her. Often when reported, as in her case, church and denominational leaders stonewall, offer excuses or attempt to explain the actions, she noted.
The sexual abuse and misconduct survivor doesn’t shy away from tough topics like shame, purity culture, secrecy, vulnerability, clericalism and justice. After making her case, Everhart calls for individuals and churches to act. The #MeToo Reckoning isn’t an easy read, but the book offers a sobering perspective and practical path to “facing the church’s complicity in sexual abuse and misconduct.”
Kathy Robinson Hillman, former president
Baptist General Convention of Texas